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PayPal hates violins

A woman recently sold an antique French violin for $2500 to a buyer who disputed the violin’s worth/authenticity. What happened next is maddening and asinine.

I sold an old French violin to a buyer in Canada, and the buyer disputed the label.

This is not uncommon. In the violin market, labels often mean little and there is often disagreement over them. Some of the most expensive violins in the world have disputed labels, but they are works of art nonetheless.

Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as “counterfeit” even though there is no such thing in the violin world.

Hey Peter Thiel, instead of whining about the iPhone, Twitter, and internet not being innovative and life-changing enough, why don’t you fix this life-ruining piece of shit company that you crapped into the world? That would definitely be a “net plus”. And DAMMIT, you made me link to TechCrunch! Argh!! (via @ftrain)

A PayPal horror story

Use PayPal for your small business? Maybe you shouldn’t.

Money in your PayPal account will be held for 180 days. After 180 days, we’ll email you information on how to receive your funds. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Nice. PayPal can unilaterally decide you’re being fraudulent and keep your money for six months while they collect the interest on it. Holy fucking conflict of interest, Batman! Are banks just naturally customer hostile?

Update: Feedback from several people: PayPal is not a bank and therefore they can do (and do do) anything they want.

PayPal has changed their fee structure to

PayPal has changed their fee structure to allow easier micropayments. For payments less than $2, the fees with be “at a rate of 5 percent plus 5 cents per transaction” compared with “1.9 to 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents per transaction” on their regular transactions. Smart move by PayPal to harness the Long Tail of ecommerce. (via rw)

Google is doing an online payment system,

Google is doing an online payment system, but will not be competing with PayPal.

Google Wallet

Word on the street (via waxy) is that Google is set to release a PayPal competitor called Google Wallet. A thread at Techdirt notes that Yahoo!, Microsoft, and eBay have all tried to launch similar services that met with little or no success in the face of competition with PayPal.

I doubt Google is focused on competing with PayPal, at least in the short term. This move, if true, makes a lot of sense for Google. They already have an internal payment system set up to collect and distribute AdSense revenues, a store selling t-shirts, bean bags, search hardware, they sell software, and they’ve indicated that with Google Video, people will be able to charge others to view videos uploaded to Google’s servers (with Google taking a small cut). Taking the core of that internal payment system, it would probably be technologically trivial** for them to open it up for anyone to pay money to anyone else (instead of just individual โ€”> Google or Google โ€”> individual). The line above about their Google Video plans โ€” “people will be able to charge others to view videos uploaded to Google’s servers (with Google taking a small cut)” โ€” already sounds a lot like what PayPal does. This is the Andre Torrez school of product development…build something that solves a problem you’re having and it’ll probably be useful to a bunch of other people if you let them use it too.

Plus it leverages their existing user base. If you’ve already got an AdSense account or are going to charge for your video through Google Video, you’re already a GWallet user…and signing people up through their GMail/Orkut/Blogger accounts would probably be pretty easy as well. This move may also indicate that Google is planning to charge a wider range of people for products/services โ€” maybe a “pro” version of Gmail, a robust, commercial API to their search results, or even a music store? GWallet would be needed infrastructure for ramping up from paying relatively few AdSense users to (potentially) anyone who uses Google. It makes sense for them beyond trying to gain a foothold in the online payments space.

** Getting the banking stuff sorted out is another story though…but as PayPal has shown, if you can get that set up, there’s plenty of revenue to be had.